‘Abandon Biden’: Democrats turn on president over support for Israel

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There was a time when he’d have jumped at the chance – not today, not with this president.

Alabas Farhat, Democratic representative for the state of Michigan, declined the invitation for a “meet and greet” with Joe Biden and he wasn’t alone.

Arab Muslim community leaders in the greater Detroit area snubbed the campaign visit to their neighbourhood. The problem they have is Mr Biden’s support for Israel in the war with Hamas and his opposition to a ceasefire.

“We feel absolutely betrayed,” said Representative Farhat. “He literally was elected because he wasn’t Trump. Many people actually believed that this is somebody who was the more humane option, potentially.

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The campaign presents a serious threat to the sitting president’s prospect of re-election
Image:
The campaign presents a serious threat to the sitting president’s prospect of re-election

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“I have people from this community that campaigned so much, to the extent that when he won, they wrote his name on their birthday cake.”

Now the campaigning is against the president they fought to elect, Democrat against Democrat.

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Alabas Farhat, Democratic representative for the state of Michigan
Image:
Alabas Farhat, Democratic representative for the state of Michigan

Across the street from where we met Rep Farhat, he pointed out the electronic signage urging locals to vote “uncommitted” – as opposed to Biden – in the upcoming Democratic primaries, hashtag “#genocidejoe”.

It runs parallel to an “Abandon Biden” initiative – don’t vote for his opponent, necessarily, but don’t vote for him.

It presents a serious threat to the sitting president’s prospect of re-election. The November poll will likely be decided by small margins in a small number of swing states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

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A survey for Bloomberg News and Morning Consult the day before Mr Biden travelled to Michigan, showed Donald Trump ahead in seven key swing states by 48% to 42%. In Michigan, it was 47% to 42% in Trump’s favour.

Any fall in support for Joe Biden in these critical places is an opportunity for his likely contender for the White House, Donald Trump – this, a former president who has pledged to tighten immigration further and expand a travel ban on people from Muslim countries.

The prospect of enabling a second Trump presidency isn’t lost on Democrats lining up against Biden.

Rep Farhat said: “They’re saying in the community (that) we’ve held out for years under Trump and we can hold out for another four, if that means we’ll stop the killing of our cousins and our loved ones overseas.

“And so, if the president doesn’t heed these words, if he doesn’t take it seriously, he’s at risk of losing the swing state of Michigan.”

It presents a serious threat to the sitting president’s prospect of re-election

A look at the figures shows Joe Biden’s vulnerability to a Muslim backlash. Michigan has one of the largest Arab American and Muslim populations in the US, numbering around 300,000. At the last election, Joe Biden won the state by 154,000 votes.

Anti-Biden sentiment is echoed in the Islamic Center of Detroit, Imam Imran Salha offered a withering criticism.

“The ink that we would use to sign that ballot (for Biden) would be through the blood of our relatives in Palestine,” he said.

“We want it to be recorded in history that President Biden was a one-term president because of the genocide against the Palestinians that he bankrolled.”

Imam Imran Salha
Image:
Imam Imran Salha

The question for Biden is how he responds. On the day he came to Michigan, he announced an executive order that will widen sanctions against Israeli settlers inflicting violence on Palestinians in the West Bank.

However, much that resonates with the Muslim community in Michigan, it doesn’t go nearly far enough.

According to Rep Alabas Farhat, the conversation needs to start with a ceasefire.

“You don’t want a president who’s going to enable the genocide that we’re seeing overseas. We don’t want our president to enable the bombing of innocent women and children and of hospitals. Now President Biden has the power to end this.”

The campaigning is against the president they fought to elect

The politics of industrial dispute are on a different level. They offered easier engagement for the president in Michigan as he came to acknowledge the endorsement for his re-election from the United Auto Workers Union.

It was photocall stuff – blue-collar backing that he will exploit for all it’s worth. There are votes in an auto industry that threads through Michigan – a place where Joe Biden needs all the friends he can find, more than ever.

Watch our new foreign affairs show, The World with Yalda Hakim, from Monday to Thursday between 9pm and 10pm on Sky News.

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